Nick Kyrgios began his US Open hard court run with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Fernando Verdasco under the watchful eye of new mentor Lleyton Hewitt at the Montreal Masters.
Kyrgios, ranked 38th, is working alongside Australia's two-time major winner in an informal capacity, with the 34-year-old Hewitt happy to help out the 20-year-old youngster. But Kyrgios said that the arrangement remained flexible and fluid, with Hewitt also attending to his own business on court as he goes into the final months of a career due to end early in 2016 after playing in his last Australian Open. "He's not my coach. Let's clear that up now," said Kyrgios after his victory in 95 minutes over Spain's Verdasco in a first-time meeting featuring 15 aces off the Australian's racquet. "He's more of a mentor. Lleyton is very kind to take time away from his family and his career to help me and Thanassi [Kokkinakis]. We don't know how long it will last but it is a great help." Kyrgios has not played since losing his only singles rubber in Davis Cup play last month in Darwin after finishing a turbulent Wimbledon fortnight which was marred by outbursts and controversy from his side. But the Australian may have regained some calm after a few weeks at home in Canberra. "I came from a place where it's really cold right now," he said of the Australian capital, where this week it dropped below freezing at night. "I've been practising indoors. Conditions here [in Montreal] are tough, and the humidity doesn't help," he said on a day when play was delayed for two hours by rain. "I've never sweated so much as I did today." Kyrgios called his win over Verdasco acceptable. "I was pleased to get a win over a quality opponent," he said before moving into a second-round clash with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. "I'm really happy with myself. The courts here are bouncy and lively. I knew I had to take control even if I didn't serve that well. "I'm pleased with how I finished in the third set. I competed well and that's the main thing. "Stan is playing unbelievable tennis. He's got a big everything - forehand, backhand. I'll go out there, play my game and see how it goes." Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic kicked off his bid for a fourth Canadian crown with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) second-round win over a stubborn Thomaz Bellucci. Bellucci, with just one win in five visits to Canada and coming off a first-round loss at Washington, appeared to be the perfect opponent for Djokovic to launch his build-up to the US Open but provided a stiff test for the world number one. The top seed in Canada for the fifth straight year, Djokovic saved all three break points he faced in a tight opening set. The Serbian, who narrowly missed out on a fourth Canada title last year after losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final, also saved two break points in the second as the set went to a tie-break, which he quickly took control of and took 7-4 to register his 250th Masters 1000 match win. In other first-round matches, 13th seed David Goffin started with an easy 6-2, 6-2 defeat of American Steve Johnson while 14th seed Grigor Dimitrov beat Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-5. Jack Sock of the US accounted for Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) and Russian Mikhail Youzhny advanced past Serb Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4. Richard Gasquet, the French 11th seed pulled out before his opening match and was replaced by lucky loser Nicolas Mahut.